This volume has its origins in a conference held at McGill University in
March 2010 under the auspices of the research area Improvisation and So-
cial Aesthetics within a larger research program entitled Improvisation,
Community, and Social Practice (icAsp). A multi- institutional network
of projects funded by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research
Council, with major concentrations at the University of Guelph, the Uni-
versity of British Columbia, and McGill University, icAsp ran from 2007 to
2014. While based in Canada, icAsp encompassed collaborations with many
international scholars and other research projects.
The 2010 conference, itself called Improvisation and Social Aesthetics,
was a vibrant and successful experimental event that brought together a
number of participants in the icAsp research area with other Canadian and
international scholars working on improvisation and social aesthetics in re-
lation to music and a range of other art and performance forms. The con-
ference was co- sponsored by icAsp and the Schulich School of Music at
McGill; it was organized by Lisa Barg and Eric Lewis. All participants in
the conference have chapters in this volume, with the exceptions of Amelia
Jones and Jason Stanyek (who declined to contribute) and Will Straw (who
is, however, a co- editor). We thank our contributors, as well as those who
participated in the conference, for their commitment to this exciting and
creative collective project.
The process of producing this edited collection benefited from the work
of two invaluable assistants—Tracey Nicholls (also a contributor to this
volume) and Eric Murphy—as well as from the assistance of Daniel Fisch-
lin, the series editor, and the suggestions of the two anonymous readers for
Duke University Press. We thank them all for their support and help.
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